Showing posts with label God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God. Show all posts

Friday, September 9, 2016

Why are God's People Afraid to be Real?

In the past I thought being a good Christian meant wearing a mask. Projecting an image of happiness and wholeness to all those around me. I thought the mask would help others to see Jesus through me. It would keep my brokenness from becoming a distraction to others. I would wear this mask that I created and when the mask would slip, I would become overcome with guilt for failing as a Christian.

Through the last several years, I have found that sometimes people can see God most shining through the cracks of my brokenness. I was doing God no favors by being artificial. God wanted to use my brokenness. He wanted to heal my brokenness. He wanted to love me in my brokenness.

As a society we have things that are stigmatized. Things that go unspoken for fear of rejection and judgement. Sadly, this is not much more different in our Christian walk.There are some subjects that are uncomfortable and can make us feel vulnerable.

Top Three Things Christians Hide: (Some of these overlap)

1. Mental Illness- Depression, Anxiety, Postpartum, Bipolar, PTSD, Schizophrenia, ect.

As I struggle with depression I find times when I feel the need to fake a smile, even when I am feeling shattered. Sometimes it is to hide my struggle. Sometimes it is to not make someone else uncomfortable. Also, sometimes it is because it makes me feel like I can just make it through. I am one of those personalities where if I am on the verge of crying and a friend tries to comfort me through kind words or through even just a touch, I fall apart and have a hard time gaining composure again.

In our society, mental illnesses are seen as weakness. They are often misunderstood. As Christians we are one body. So why can't we be vulnerable with our brothers and sisters in Christ? How is our pride getting in the way of allowing us to seek support and prayer? Are our expectations of others and attitudes keeping others from reaching out to us?

2. Addictions- Drugs, Alcohol, Food, Pornography, ect.

As I struggle with overeating I feel a deep sense of shame and guilt. I will have a nagging thought that seems to get louder and louder as I entertain it. I seek it for comfort. It makes me feel better, but the feeling is so short lived and I end up feeling defeated and worse than before. It is an idol that I have given myself to and that I felt could take away the pain. Food is not the only addiction I have had in my life, but at this time it is the one that I struggle with day by day, hour by hour, sometimes moment by moment.

If so many with addictions find help with support groups, how many more Christians could if we could be open about our struggles? If we could listen, support, and pray for them? Unfortunately, judgmental attitudes get in the way of showing love to each other. Imagine a brother or sister in Christ came to you and said, "Please pray for me. I am addicted to pain pills." How easy would it be to judge that person? It can be so easy to compare ourselves to others, when really we should be comparing ourselves to Jesus.

3. Sexual Immorality- Lust, Adultery, Pornography, ect.

A little over ten years ago, I had an emotional affair that turned into physical affair. It had started as a friendship. Someone who I felt understood me and who made me feel better about myself, when at the time I felt I was in a loveless marriage. I quickly became emotionally attached to the person. My heart would start racing when I saw their number on the caller id. I would find reasons to go and talk. After having a fight with my husband, I went to my friend for comfort. The emotional affair became physical and I had committed adultery. I was so attached to this person that I was willing to break apart my family. My life quickly fell apart. It was soon after that I allowed Jesus to be the Lord of my life.Thankfully, God has worked so many miracles in my life and has brought healing and restoration into my marriage.

In the church sex and sexual immorality is often a topic that is brushed aside. We feel uncomfortable talking about it and it has become faux pas. So many families are or have been impacted by sexual sins. It seems almost like we believe if we ignore it, it will go away. Sexual sins are embarrassing, but they wont just go away. Jesus was a great example with the Samaritan woman at the well. 


John 4:15-19 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
John 4:39-41 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.  And because of his words many more became believers.

Why should we get real?

*Not only are mental illnesses, addictions, and sexual immorality similar in the way they are stigmatized, they are all very isolating struggles. They lead to others withdrawing and trying to handle it on their own. If we as a body can start communicating about them, it will remove some of the power of them. We can then lift each other up and encourage each other. 

Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.


*We are a light, even in our brokenness. The world is filled with fallen broken people. If we can be real with others, they can see that God loves us in our brokenness. We are unable to do good on our own, but God still uses us to bring Him glory. How cool to have a God that can use the very things that we struggle with, to help others. 

1 Timothy 1:15-17 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Brothers and Sisters, 
If you are struggling and you feel all alone, you are not! It may feel like the world is caving in on you and like you are just trying to survive. Even then, God is still there. He loves you so much and you are precious to Him. Please reach out to a friend, family member, a doctor, or a pastor. We are stronger with others at our side. Please let me know if there is any way I can pray for you! 
God Bless, 
Faith

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Prayer of the Doubter

God, You are good. You are have always had your hand of protection and provision upon me and my family. I have seen You do miracles that would be considered great to many and in some that would be considered tiny. You have shown me great mercy and love, even in times when I was least deserving. You reign Most High over all. 

Yet God, I still struggle to see You at time. I struggle to remember Your goodness and faithfulness. I struggle to understand that You are bigger than my circumstances. I struggle to know that You love me in my weaknesses. I struggle to look to You first, instead of trying to carry the burden alone. 

God, I am sorry for my lack of faith. I am sorry for taking my eyes off of You. I am sorry for allowing the things around me to consume me with anxiety. I am sorry for failing to give You the glory and honor You always deserve. 

God, my God, I need Your help. Help me to set my eyes on You, Lord. Help me narrow the gap between my head and my heart. Help me to rest in Your promises. Help me to have more self control when it comes to my emotions. Help me to hide Your word in my heart. Help me to set aside the things in this world and of my flesh and become more like Jesus. Help me to remember to place my concerns at the foot of the cross and to leave them there. Most of all, Lord, help me in my unbelief. 

Amen

There is a great sermon from Pastor Rob Schneider titled The Struggle of Faith on 9/7/2014 on the website http://www.calvarysbc.com/media.php?pageID=6

Monday, November 30, 2015

Family and Funerals


This morning my husband asked me if I had ever been to a "black funeral". At first, I was confused by the question. I began to quietly ponder on what might be different between funerals I had been to before with my family and a funeral with his family. 


A week ago my husband had lost a beloved cousin, Glenn Strong, to violence. The news was shocking and devastating. I saw my news feed fill up with the outcry of his family and friends. Part of me thinks the violence aspect caused even more pain and confusion than other situations. As the week progressed, I watched as my strong loving husband went from shock to brokenness masked only by keeping busy. Even in the midst of everything he remained strong and steadfast for his girls. My heart ached in empathy for him and his family and I felt completely helpless and unable to comfort. The only thing I could do was to follow his lead and stand by him to support and love him. 

So this morning we were planning the events of the day and the timeline,when he asked if I had ever been to a "black funeral". 

While we were at the funeral there were some minor differences, but that might even be just differences in churches. Most all of what I experienced was exactly the same. 

We heard the mournful wails of the brokenhearted sister. We saw the husband holding up his wife as she said goodbye to her baby boy. We saw the cousins who were both broken-hearted at the loss of someone so dear, while also so thankful to be reunited with other family members. We heard the gentle crinkle of the candy wrappers from the elderly lady who passed them out to restless children. We smelled the food that had been lovingly prepared for the family. We heard the lyrics to "His Eye On The Sparrow". We saw the room overfilled with all those whose lives were touched by Glenn. We heard the words of the pastors who pointed the glory back to God. The thing that was exactly the same was the feeling of love that poured from the family. 

From the first time I met my husband's family, I have felt loved and welcome and the very first person I met was Glenn. It is one of my favorite stories and I even told it less than a week before Glenn's passing. 

When I first met my husbands family, they were having a reunion in a park and we had arrived after it was already dark. There was very little lighting and I only knew his dad and brothers who had arrived with us. When the hubby was speaking to some family members I went to walk around and introduce myself. I walked up to the first picnic table and introduced myself to a kind man. He said, "It's nice to meet you. I'm Little Glenn." We spoke briefly and then I went to another table. Again I introduced myself, or reintroduced myself. He said, "Hi Faith, I just met you. I'm Glenn." I was slightly embarrassed but it could have happened to anyone. I went to another group and yet again reintroduced myself. (Now remember it is very dark and they are all family..) Again he kindly responded, "Hi Faith. I am Glenn. Why don't I walk you around and introduce you to everyone?" He walked and talked with me as I got to meet all of my husband's family. 

Through the funeral and the reception Abbie, our oldest, kept mentioning that she loved her daddy's family. She also mentioned how loving his family was. I reminded her several times that they are all her family not just her dad's. She was a part of this amazing loving family. 

After spending more time with his family I came to a realization. Just like Abbie, I had continued to refer to them as his family. The reality is they are MY family. Eleven years ago they welcomed me in and have made me feel so incredibly loved. We see them far too little and I hope to change that. I love my family and will be lifting them up as they face the loss of Glenn, the first one to welcome me again and again and again. 



Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Stages of Grief: Denial

I have always found writing very therapeutic especially in times that I can not completely process my feelings and thoughts. I decided that I would write my way through the five stages of grief. 

As a general background on grief, there are said to be five stages of grief. DABDA.. Denial... Anger... Bargaining... Depression... and Acceptance. I believe that everyone goes through all the stages when mourning but the length of time a person spends in each one varies greatly from person to person. For example some people might only spend a few seconds in denial while another can spend a day or week. All of the stages are our bodies way of processing and protecting us. 

Today I lost someone... well I didn't really lose them because I know right where he is. He is in heaven. He is a man of many names. Some call him Carvin, some call him Pastor Don, some call him father, grandpa, husband, and I called him P. Don. I met him when I was in a very broken place. I was recently separated from my spouse, I was caring for my daughter alone, I was without a church home, I was feeling completely unloveable, and I had no idea what God had in store for me and my family. I was bitter and confused. I was broken. To be honest on first time meeting P.Don I would have never believed the impact he would have on my life. I went to his church with my parents and through that event I ended up working at the church's daycare. Since I didn't have transportation I worked on the bus route with P.Don. We spent hours a day talking. We talked about life and about God. Pastor Don taught me to seek a deeper understanding of God. He taught me to not just blindly follow what others said but to search scripture for truth. He taught me that reconciliation with my spouse was possible. Most of all he taught me that I am lovable. That was one of my toughest lessons, just hearing the words would bring tears to my eyes each time. Far to often I would end up crying because he would push me to grow and while it was difficult I thrived. I would not only spend most days at the church but would go to the bible studies and hangout during the weekends. Pastor Don also taught me how to love others just through watching his interaction with everyone around him. He spent the time speaking to the parents of the kids. He would pray for them and evangelize to them... not by hitting them with the Bible but by understanding how lost and broken they were and reaching out through love.  After our reconciliation,  I would text my hubby to let him know that I was on my way home and I would type P.Don instead of spelling out the entire thing and  once he, Pastor Don, had heard me say it to my hubby and told me what it sounded like when I said it out loud. Instead of being offended he laughed and smiled. He was always that way... instead of being quick to anger he was quick to love. He has set the bar high for all the other pastors. I was trying to describe who he was to me and I couldn't quite articulate it. He was a friend, like family,  a mentor, he is P.Don. 

Denial is one of the first stages of grief. It is the stage I am still in. One day I was watching an interview of Kaley Cuoco (Big Bang Theory) on Ellen. She, Kaley, was describing how she had severely broken her leg in a freak horse riding incident. Basically the she got thrown from the horse and then the horse got spooked and stepped on her leg. When she was describing the events she said that she couldn't feel anything but she noticed her foot was facing her and she thought "oh that's going to hurt." That is kind of like what I feel right now. I can see how bad the damage is going to be and I know that it is going to hurt really bad but at this moment I don't feel it... I am numb. When I am in denial I become very logical and think through the things that need done and how I need to go about doing them but I don't spend time reflecting on the emotions. When those come I will completely crash so for now I need to prepare for the storm as best as possible. I feel heartache for his family and for all those who loved him but I don't feel the loss myself. I feel a little concerned that it will hit suddenly and hard when I least expect it, like when speaking to someone in public, but I know that I can't live in fear. When it gets tough I will have to keep putting it back at the feet of the cross and letting God give me the strength I need. I would not make it through if it weren't for the grace of God. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Political Correctness: The Downfall of American Christians Today

Warning: This is me getting on my soap box. As always I do not expect anyone who does not share my beliefs to follow my beliefs. I also do not apologize for honestly giving my thoughts and beliefs, but am more than happy to hear your views from you... so please share in the comments section. 

Today my girls and I went to visit my parents church which is lead by Pastor Sharp. What he brought up was the way we conform to the world instead of rejecting the views of it. I think that often we end up conforming to the world's views through slowly compromising, most often through a process we call "Political Correctness". 



This is a picture of the Grand Canyon. What amazes me is that they think the shape of the canyon is caused by wind and water (the river). It is said that a constant drip of water can shape and wear down a stone or rock. This reminds me of American Christians. We are built on such a strong foundation. We are built on the rock but through allowing just a tiny bit of outside influence we have slowly began to erode and change shape until we are left with just a glimpse of what we once were. This happens as a whole in the churches but also in our lives as individuals. It is a process that I have seen in my own life. I will let the world just have a little bit of me (maybe a favorite soap opera), then I put myself around friends that use coarse and ungodly language, I might begin to listen to more music that is not holy... slowly the world has curved this canyon out of my heart and leave a huge impact on it, one that everyone else can see and I often don't notice because it was such a slow change. 


Another example of this slow process that changes one so drastically would be my weight. 
When I was a little girl I was small. I wasn't even on the doctors charts for a while. It wasn't until I was in high school that I really noticed that I was gaining weight. I remember looking down at my stomach and thinking, "this is odd.. I don't remember that roll there." Within a few years I had packed on a lot of weight. I gained a little over 100 lbs in a little over a year. After having my two daughter my weight continued on the incline but slowly until I hit 250 lbs. There are plenty of excuses I can give for the weight gain, (pregnancy, depression, pain, athletic asthma, stress, limited budget, ect.) many of which I have actually used. The fact is that I allowed it by not seeing the change sooner and finding a way to stop it. I was lazy and complacent and now often I don't even recognize myself. The person I imagine in my head is this young thin kid and seeing the reflections of my poor decisions sometimes brings me to tears. This is a slow process that completely transforms you. It doesn't happen at once and it is due to laziness and complacency. 

I fear that as Christians and as a body we have become that way. We have allowed this process to happen but instead of being through physical weight it is through "Political Correctness". Our society pressures us to hold our tongues, to call evils good, to be "polite", to let everyone have his or her own truth. This is NOT a biblical idea. The Bible does not compare politeness with being submissive to the world's views. We are to be set apart and not of this world. We can not redefine what we believe just to make someone feel comfortable. In fact in being light it draws the things in darkness in to view. There is one truth and if you believe that, then there is no room in allowing for individual truths. We are still able to show love while being honest and true to God's word. Basically, I don't have to agree with you to love you. I find it a sad place in our society when it is not socially acceptable to mention God's name unless it is in a derogatory manner.  

Even though it may not be politically correct: I will teach my daughters abstinence. I will teach my daughters to respect God. I will teach my daughters the value of life and the destruction of abortion. I will teach my daughters to pray before eating and whenever they want to. I will teach my daughters to not only seek out godly spouses but to honor and submit to them with love. I will teach my daughters that without God they are nothing and dead, not only emotionally but eternally. I will teach my daughters to define themselves and things according to God's word, not worldly views. I will teach my daughters to be God correct, not politically correct. 

The good news? We do not have to be like the Grand Canyon... as people or as a body of believers. God can heal those parts and bring restoration to those parts that we have allowed to be slowly eroded. God can build us up again and again, but we have to turn to Him and allow Him. We have to seek out to God-correctness and not what this world wants. 


Isaiah 5:20-21 "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight."

John 14:6 "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

John 15:19 " If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rescue Me

Have you ever had a moment where everything seemed to come crashing down around you? Where frustration turned into tears of distraught and no matter how hard you try to pull yourself out of that bad place you were stuck feeling stranded and alone? 

Most of the time I would consider myself pretty easy going. So many things happen all the time that even though they might bother me I am able to just keep going. Most of the time I am Dory... I just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim. 

But occasionally I find myself in a place where I can't swim anymore and I just need rescued. 

Last Tuesday, I had one of those moments. Let me set the scene for you. 
I had been battling a case of bronchitis for a week already and began to get worse. I hadn't been sleeping well due to being sick and due to the littlest one waking up every night at 1am and staying up for three to four hours. Both of my poor little girls were sick too. This day also seemed to be a more hormonal and emotional day to begin with, thanks to the pregnancy hormones. Even with all this I was doing alright. For some reason we thought that it was a good idea to switch the bedrooms and build the girls bunk beds at 7pm at night, when the house was already a wreck from everyone being sick and nothing being taken care of. All of the beds got taken down, halls were filled with dressers and stuff, there was no access into many rooms, and both girls were high energy and needy. We got the bottom part of the bunk finished when it was time for the hubby to leave for work. Even at that point I was alright, I was swimming right along. Then IT happened. I could not get a screw into the bed. I tried over and over and it wouldn't go. That screw threw me into a dark place. That moment the frustration overwhelmed me and I suddenly noticed all the things that I had been swimming past. I noticed how sick I was. I noticed how tired I was. I noticed that the girls were driving me crazy and weren't listening. I noticed that I had no place for them to sleep that night. I noticed that I was all alone building something that seemed impossible. I began to break down. I was angry that I was left with the problem. I was sad that I wasn't being a patient mom. I was frustrated that the stupid screw just wouldn't go in. I was stranded and alone with no hope. I needed to be rescued. 

I called my mom and dad to see if the girls and I could crash at their house but there was no answer. I was at a complete loss of what to do. Then my phone rang. It was my daddy. I tried to tell him what was wrong and why I was calling but I struggled to force out the words while holding back tears. The lump in my throat grew and it became harder to breath. Then with these few simple words relief flushed over me, "I'll be right there." I was being rescued. Like a true knight in shining armor... my dad didn't only take me away from the problem.. he fixed it. He stayed there patiently working with me to build the beds. While he built the beds, he played with the girls and gave them the attention that I didn't have in me. He made the huge unconquerable mountain fun. It turns out the company didn't even give us all the right pieces that we needed but with him there it didn't seem to matter. He helped get a place for the girls to lay their heads and gave me peace of mind. Even though the beds couldn't be made into bunk beds yet, we got them all set up and he even stayed to finish the ladder so we wouldn't have to worry about it when we did get the pieces in. He rescued me and in such a loving and patient way. I felt like that little girl that ran into her daddy's arms to seek comfort. 


We are called to be examples to our children of God's love for us. What a great example my dad was for me. I know that when I am lost God seeks me out with open arms, comforts me, and fights for me when I am not strong enough to fight. 

Isaiah 40:28-31 
"Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint."

Planetshakers -Rescue Me

When im alone the world is such a different place
Sometimes its hard to keep the smile upon my face
It seems like I try so hard and still I let you down
Its taken so long but now theres one thing that Ive found

When everyting starts crashing down
When all I know falls to the ground
When darkness comes and I can't see
You're always there to rescue me

Just when I think that Ive got it figured out
You open my eyes and let me see that theres no doubt
But you've got it all within the power of your hand
It seems like the more I know the less I understand

When everyting starts crashing down
When all I know falls to the ground
When darkness comes and I can't see
You're always there to rescue me
When all my strength has turned to fear
When I wonder if you're near
When I dont know how to break free
You're always there to rescue me

I wonder if Ill make it through this darkest night
I need to know your strength in me gonna win this fight
Im reaching out wont you take my hand show me to the light
I know you're by my side

It seems like I try so hard and still I let you down
Its taken so long but now theres one thing that Ive found

When everyting starts crashing down
When all I know falls to the ground
When darkness comes and I can't see
You're always there to rescue me
When all my strength has turned to fear
When I wonder if you're near
When I dont know how to break free
You're always there to rescue me
You're always there to rescue me
You're always there to rescue me
You're always there to rescue me
You're always there to rescue me

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What Can I Say?

Dear friend of mine, 

I know that you are facing a difficult time in your life. I know that things seem overwhelming, confusing, and hopeless. It can be so hard to see God's hand moving at this time.  I wish that telling you that God is in control would make it all better, but part of faith is choosing to believe even when you don't feel it. My heart aches for you. I truly wish I could take this pain from you or help you through this time. Your burden is on my heart and I will be praying for you. I truly believe in the power of prayer and can see God moving in the lives of others as they face times of trial. I love you and am there for you if you need me. 

-Faith

The last several years have been very turbulent in my life. God has shown me His grace and peace in these times but they were times of great trials. For the last week we have been in a time of peace. It has been a great relief. Sadly, as I am in this time I see all those I love around me in times of pain and disappointment. Some in a situation that I could never imagine. I think that God gives us the grace we need when we are in the times we need it. If I had been able to see all the things that I would have had to deal with I would have been extremely discouraged and not seen any hope. What can you say to a woman who's husband was killed? What can you tell a mother who lost her child? What can you say to someone who has been patiently waiting for the desires of their heart and begin losing hope? I don't know if their are words. All I can think to say is I am sorry. I am sorry you are hurting. I am sorry you have to face this. I think sometimes there aren't words but there is intercessory prayer. I love how scripture says in Romans 8:26 " In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." It is like God knows that sometimes our pain is so deep that there are no words for it, just groans. There were times in my life when I couldn't even form words when praying and would just weep and throw myself into God's loving arms. 


Saturday, January 5, 2013

From One Mother to Another

Tonight my heart is heavy with concerns for mothers who feel insecure, scared, and alone. I don't think that personal struggles are expressed openly in our society and I fear that it is causing more mothers to feel alone in their struggles. For example, postpartum depression is not often talked about amongst friends and yet it supposedly affects 11-20% of mothers. Personally, I wonder if the number would be higher if women did not feel guilt when admitting their struggles. 

Let me start by saying that I truly feel that motherhood is an amazing gift from God. I am so blessed to have my children and wouldn't change a thing. 

Now that I have said that, I am going to let you in on a dirty little secret. Motherhood is hard... actually it is not just hard. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. It is overwhelming, stressful, tedious, frustrating, painful, and the toughest things I have ever had to do. There are times that I am so overwhelmed that I can't decide whether to yell or cry. There is overwhelming fear that controls you when you think your child is in harms way. There is frustration that can lead to your body physically shaking in anger when you have no idea how to get through to a disobedient and disrespectful child. There is the exhaustion of waking up through out the night with a baby or a sick child. There is the physical pain of trying to carry everything and care for everyone. Motherhood is hard. I am not saying all of this to bring you down or create fear if you are expecting a child. I am saying this to let you know that you are NOT ALONE! You are not a BAD mom for having these emotions! All of these things are completely worth it and can actually bring you closer to your child. It doesn't matter whether you have a newborn or if your child is already an adult, some of these feelings still apply... most of all the feeling of inadequacy. 

So often I will feel that I am not a good mother. I am not doing enough. I didn't respond the right way. I didn't do things like other mothers. We feel like we could have done more to help our child. I truly feel that my mother is an amazing (perfect if possible) mother. She is everything that I wish I could be. Yet, I know that through the years she herself has felt overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted. She is always wishing she could help us more, protect us more, and show us that she loves us more. Though it may sound twisted, it gives me great relief to know that my amazing mom struggles too. She understands me all that much more after facing it herself. Even though I am in adulthood, I know that my mom still worries about me at times. It doesn't matter how old we get... she is still a mother. 

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia defines postpartum depression as  "moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later." (If you click on the link the page describes some of the symptom.) After I had Abbie, I struggled with postpartum depression. I had heard of it before from my doctor but I had never heard friends openly discuss it. It seemed like it was a embarrassing secret. At first I would fear that others would think of me as a bad mom or that people would take my baby away from me if they knew. As I began to open up about it I realized how common it really was. This is my story...

After Abbie was born I didn't feel as connected with her. I loved her as I thought I should but I didn't feel attached to her. I was already battling with bipolar but something seemed different. My husband was working two jobs, one of which was overnight. When Abbie was only a few weeks old I went to give her a bath. As I was bathing her a terrifying thought came into my head. "I could just hold her under and drown her." As soon as the thought entered my head I grabbed her out of the bath and put her in her crib. I didn't even throw a diaper on her but instead placed her blanket over her and left the room. I sat the the recliner for hours weeping as she slept. I was so scared that if I told my husband, he would take her away from me. When he got home I told him what had happened. I also told my mother. I was so scared that I would harm my baby. What kind of mother would even think of hurting her child? We setup a plan to protect her. My husband and mother would give her baths and if I ever had thoughts like that I would make sure she was safe and physically separate myself from her. I held onto the guilt from that incidence for years. It wasn't until much later that I realized how common it is for some mothers to have thoughts of harming the child. The thoughts aren't what makes me a bad mother.. it was the actions if I had gave into the thoughts. I never had that thought again after that day but I still use the guidelines for myself. If I am angry or emotionally upset by something I do not punish my children. I separate myself until I am ok or until their father can handle it. 

It is ok to need physical and emotional space from your child. I call this a mommy timeout. When a newborn is crying and you are exhausted and feel like you are on edge, it is perfectly fine to put the baby down and walk away for a few minutes. Being hormonal, sleep deprived, stressed, and not know what the baby wants can be perfect setup for disaster. Another tip is to have a friend that you can be open and honest with during the situation. It is nice to have the extra help but even just venting can help. 

Being a mother is hard. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. It is overwhelming, stressful, tedious, frustrating, painful, and the toughest things I have ever had to do. It is also the most amazing thing I have been blessed to do. There is the times that they smile at you full of love and melt your heart like butter. There is the pride that comes with the times they do something new for the first time. There is laughter when they say or do something hilarious but have no idea what they did. There is the the peace when you watch them as they lay sleeping. There is the hope you feel when they realize a mistake a change their behavior without being disciplined. There is the strength you feel when they run into your arms for protection and care. 

I know that I am a good mother not because of what diaper they wear or what grades they get. I am a good mother because I do my best, I love them with every cell of my body, and because I point them back to God. 



Thursday, December 27, 2012

How to Make Your Marriage Work

Let me start by saying that this post is only for those who want or think that they might want it to work. If you have decided in your heart that you are done and that your marriage is not worth fighting for anymore than you will not find much support through what I write. I do not judge you because there were times that I had been there, but I do encourage you to leave just a little room for the possibility and to seek counseling. The fact is even if you do get a divorce you will continue to carry the baggage of a torn marriage around with you until you have resolved it and begun processing it. Again, if you choose to get a divorce I wish you all the best in your life but this post is not meant for you. 

When making a marriage work you can start by thinking of it as a war for your marriage instead of a fight. What do I mean about that? There are going to be battles, some that you win and some that you lose, but you can't just surrender at the the defeats. When you start a war you have to have a military plan.You need to know what you are fighting for, what damages you expect, and who your allies are. Allies would be pastors, counselors, and other spiritual leaders. You need soldiers to fight with you who understand your goal. They fight with you through all the battles and they give you emotional support when you feel like putting up the white flag. Real soldiers do not sabotage you. Like wars, patience is key. There is no way to know how long it will last. 

If you are at this point you may have been facing loneliness, abuse, addictions, infidelity, loss of identity, and hopelessness. All of these things deserve to be addressed. 

I wanted to start by discussing loneliness. One of the hardest things I faced was not being lonely in general but was being lonely in a marriage. It can make you feel like a caged bird, one that longs for freedom but is stuck all alone. I wanted to address loneliness first because of the risk of future harm to your marriage. When there is trouble in a marriage it is important to not confide in any males that you are not related to. Even with the best of intentions, a friendship can quickly escalate to an emotional attachment. When you feel lonely and unloved by your husband, it can be easy to allow yourself to listen to a male who is willing to listen to you and support you. Even if the emotional attachment never turns to more, any time you go to another male for that attachment and not your spouse it can cause a further drift in your marriage. This is why it is very important to learn the importance of some good female Christian  fellowship.

Three things that most people consider deal breakers are abuse, addiction, and infidelity. If you have had to face any of these issues, I am so sorry. These can tear down your confidence. They can make you lose trust in people. I believe that a couple can move past these hurts and still have a very healthy marriage but it takes a lot of work, love, and forgiveness. I truly believe in God's strength and power when He is put at the center of a marriage. While I believe in working through these issues, I also believe in healthy boundaries. You can love a person and still not allow their actions to affect you. It is important that if you are in danger, you need to separate yourself from the person. You can continue to love them by not enabling their behavior, by taking the time separated to connect with God, and by remaining in prayer for them. I think of this as loving from a distance. Boundaries is a great book that teaches about Godly boundaries. 

When struggling in a marriage you can face loss of identity. I remember this vividly. I feel like I went from Faith to just being Alvin's wife and Abbie's mom. I placed all of my confidence and identity in my spouse instead of in the Lord. When I began to see a change in my marriage is when I began to pray that I would find fulfillment in God and not in my spouse. I realized that if I could be fulfilled in God then any love my spouse gave me would just be overflow. The only person we can change is ourselves. 

There is no way for us to create hope... hope only comes from God and knowing His promises. We have to know that God would not lead us astray. If you place God at the center of you life and your marriage, He will give you the wisdom and strength you need to make it through. 

When speaking to others about the struggles in marriage, one common theme I hear is, "Why should I fight (change... go to counseling) if they aren't willing to fight (change... go to counseling) for me?" This can be a tough question to answer. How often did God fight for me, when I was not willing to fight for Him? How often did He love and forgive me when I was angry and sinful towards Him? I am just so thankful to God that through out the many struggles in my marriage we never both gave up fighting at the same time.... there was always one of us fighting. I know that it was God who carried us through those times. I am amazed to see the couple God is changing us into. 

God can heal your marriage, but you have to be willing to let Him. Seek godly wisdom and counsel. Set up godly boundaries for yourself and your spouse. Lose yourself in God because that is where you will find fulfillment. Pray for your spouse. Hope comes from God alone. 

Romans 5:10 "For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

Warren Barfield- Love is Not a Fight


Love is not a place

To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We'll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Chorus:
Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they're falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do

Chorus:
Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us
If we'll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all

Chorus:
Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It's worth fighting for